We have experienced cold at some point in our lives—the really bad one. We all know how it feels, the constant headache, running nose, coughs that are enough to choke you and nothing seems to make you feel warm. Well, a week into this treachery and we know we never want to go through this again. So, what do we usually do? Visit the doctor and get a prescription for antibiotics. Simple isn’t it? Factually, the common cold—diagnosed as ‘Upper respiratory tract infection’ (URTI), stands out to be one of the top reasons to visit a doctor in the US. But then here’s the issue ‘Antibiotics have no effect whatsoever on common cold’.
Though your doctor might prescribe you some antibiotics, as a matter of fact, the causative organism of the common cold is a ‘virus’ so how exactly can we cure it with a drug that is targeting to kill bacteria? (If at all the antibiotics seem to have worked it might only be due to the placebo effect.)
Antibiotics for Common Cold?
It is alarming to note that an estimated 30% of the total antibiotic prescriptions in US clinics and hospitals are given inappropriately as a prescription for UTRI. As we have discussed earlier that, intake of antibiotics in excessive amounts is now being considered as a major threat to public health worldwide, as it causes resistance to the antibiotics within the body. Also, antibiotics may have adverse effects on the gut microbiome of an individual and thereby leads to long term health risks.
So, can we get rid of this? Technically, we would try to prevent our self from contacting cold in the first place, but it does not seem practical at all. It becomes almost impossible to escape the viral exposure of this virus due to the countless public transits that we are regularly a part of such as, ATM keypads, elevator buttons, or even the doorknobs we touch daily.
Can Probiotics keep a check on Antibiotic Prescriptions?
In this regard scientists are starting to investigate a technique that might solve this inevitable problem, they believe that ‘probiotics can potentially act as a preventive measure to avoid the common cold.’
In a 2015 scientific analysis evidence shows that probiotics can be a way to enhance results associated with the common cold. For this analysis, two groups of adults were compared i.e., those who used probiotics and those who did not. It was seen that out of a total 100, about 11 fewer people contacted common cold in the former group. Also, the duration of the illness was shorter by 2 days at an average and above all, this group had fewer antibiotic prescriptions.
What Studies and Research Suggest?
The benefits of probiotics in real life in order to prevent common cold were seen with some concrete data in the countries of France and Canada. In an analysis published in 2015 and 2016, it was shown that an increase in the intake of probiotics may curb thousands of antibiotic prescriptions each year. Data indicates that this number was between 291,000 and 473,000 in France and even higher i.e., between 52,000 and 84,000 in Canada. And ultimately this also leads to reduced expenditure on healthcare.
Follow-up studies are in order to be conducted by researchers at the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) to answer the question of whether the use of antibiotics can be reduced by administering probiotics prevent or cure infections such as a common cold.